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Iraq Still in a Terrible Mess

Amitabh Pal

 by The Progressive

Just because U.S. soldiers aren’t dying in Iraq doesn’t mean all is well there.

The New York Times had as a recent headline “Iraq War Marks First Month With No U.S. Military Deaths,” with a certain Colonel Douglas Crissman saying, “If you had thought about a month without a death back during the surge in 2007, it would have been pretty hard to imagine…” The paper does report that this “has occurred amid a frightening campaign of suicide bombings and assassinations from Sunni insurgents that killed hundreds of Iraqis, resurrecting the specter of the worst days of sectarian fighting.”

The American media in general has been content to ignore Iraq once U.S. casualties leveled off. The Iraq War received just 1 percent of national coverage in 2010, according to the Pew Research Center.

But Iraq is still suffering eight years after an illegal invasion, and nothing will change this reality. Do try telling Dick Cheney that, though.

George W. Bush “understood the dimensions of what we were doing; I certainly supported it,” Cheney said on the Today show while doing the rounds to promote his memoir. “I advocated it. I thought it was the right policy. I believe that still today.''

Talk about an absence of conscience. The U.S. responsibility in the aftermath of the 2003 invasion should not be limited to the direct toll U.S. forces exacted; instead, the United States deserves a good deal of the blame for overall fatalities due to its failure to provide adequate security, as John Tirman persuasively argues in “The Deaths of Others,” which I recently reviewed for The Progressive.

The Iraq invasion was such a mess-up that it has given birth to a new phrase in Arabic: arqana (Iraqize). In other words, to completely make a disaster of. Professor Juan Cole, whom we need to thank for this piece of information, further points out: “Those neoconservatives who trumpet their Iraq misadventure as a predecessor to the Arab Spring should take a lesson; no one cites Iraq among the youth movements except as an example of what must be avoided.”

However, the mayhem in Iraq should not be used to justify an ongoing U.S. presence in that country.

“After eight years of occupation and thirteen years of semi-daily attacks and economic sanctions, it’s laughable for Iraqis to look at the U.S. as the savior,” Iraqi-American blogger and activist Raeed Jarrar recently told Democracy Now. “The U.S. is definitely a part of the problem. And a complete U.S. withdrawal is seen as a very important, and maybe the only, first step towards putting the country back on the right track of reconstruction and reconciliation.”

As on many other issues, The Onion in its parody is more accurate in its coverage of Iraq than the “serious” news media. “Ongoing Iraqi Violence Almost Makes American Invasion Seem Pointless,” reads an Onion headline from the current issue. “Approximately 83 percent of Americans surveyed said recent incidents … that have left scores of Iraqis dead and wounded were the kinds of events that, if they didn't know better, might make them think the lengthy occupation really wasn't worth it in the slightest,” the story says.

It’s hard to top that.

© 2021 The Progressive
Amitabh Pal

Amitabh Pal

Amitabh Pal is managing editor of The Progressive. He has interviewed the Dalai Lama, Mikhail Gorbachev, Jimmy Carter and John Kenneth Galbraith for the magazine.

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